Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Allaert van Everdingen

A River Landscape with Figures on a Bridge, Allaert van Everdingen
As a general rule, I'm not fond of European landscape paintings. Having said that I guess it would be more accurate to say I'm not fond of the painters who have painted them. At least until the impressionists came along, pretty much regardless of the nationality, the setting, the artists, or the era in which they were painted, there has always seemed to me to be a certain bland, sameness to such work. There are a number of reasons for this, over which the artists sometimes have had little or no control. First of all, there's the always seems to be cloudy. Second, the setting and content chosen by European artists always seems to range from fairly uninteresting to downright boring. The third factor is a matter of style, a delicacy of technique, regardless of content, that seems out of keeping with the texture and rawness of nature. That is to say, they seem too refined. And finally, it took hundreds of years before the impressionist demonstrated that...surprise, surprise...nature is quite colorful. And when they did, the European art world gasped in horror, then cried out with angry outrage.
Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860, Thomas Moran
To see what I mean, noticed the fairly interesting landscape by the Dutch artist, Allaert van Everdingen (one of his better ones) titled A River landscape with Figures on a Bridge (top). Now compare it to Twilight in the Wilderness (above), from 1860, by the American landscape painter, Thomas B. Moran. If the word WOW! comes to mind, you aren't alone. Is it fair to compare a sunset to a midday painting? Probably not, but look below; both his Scandinavian Landscape and van Everdingen's House for Pillars in the Winter (below), from around 1670, depict sunsets.
House for Pillars in the Winter, ca. 1670, Allaert van Everdingen.
Is it fair to compare paintings created nearly two-hundred years apart? Strictly speaking, probably not, except for the fact that van Everdingen's work is so timeless as to be quite similar to landscapes created in much of Europe well up through the early 19th-century. Keep in mind that Moran's gorgeous American landscape was painted in 1860, shortly before the impressionist colorized European landscape painting. Until then, it was as if European landscape painters were somehow afraid of color. It may seem strange, but that's not far from the truth. In fact, there was something of a philosophical battle raging within the French Academy as to which was more important fine drawing or vivid color (the Poussinistes Versus the Rubenistes).

Allaert van Everdingen had a "thing" for waterfalls,
and apparently muddy ones at that.
I chose the work of Allaert van Everdingen as representative of much of the European landscape tradition in that he was generally regarded as one of the most important pioneers in the romantic landscapes. His influence extended from the mid-1600's, through prominent landscape painters such as Jacob van Ruisdael, and Meindert Hobbema, until the era of Romanticism in the early 1800s with names such as Caspar David Friedrich and Johan Christian Dahl. Despite this, he is today virtually unknown among the general public, and relatively few are aware of his enormous art-historical importance.

Allaert van Everdingen,
1621, Adam Pijnacker.
Allaert van Everdingen was born in the Netherlands in 1621. He died in Am-sterdam in 1675. Together with his brother, Caesar, he began his career as a painter and printmaker in the mid-1630's. Allaert was the bolder of the two brothers and moved early on to Utrecht, to study under Roelant Savery. A short time later he moved on to Haarlem, where he joined Pieter de Molyn, who exerted a significant influence on the young artist. However, most art his-torians agree that it was in Scandinavia that he came to fully develop the unusually dramatic landscape imagery for which he became best known. With the help of the painter's sketchbook, we know that van Everdingen visited Göte-borg, Bohuslän, Sweden, Dalarna and probably Norway's southeast coast. His sketches, which were usually created in the wild, were used as a basis for the relatively free and imaginative compositions which he methodically worked out in the Studio.
Hikers in the Highlands, after 1655,
Allaert van Everdingen
Ironically, there are a much larger number of van Everdingen's drawings and etchings in England than elsewhere. His Landscape with a Barn (below) is an excellent example of his printmaking skills. Being a collector as well as an engraver and painter, he brought together a large number of works of all kinds. The sale of these by his heirs in Amsterdam on March 11, 1676, gives an approximate clue to the date of the painter's death. 

Landscape with a Barn Between
Boulders, Allaert van Everdingen


No comments:

Post a Comment